Stephin Merritt, songwriter of The Magnetic Fields once said that his band’s much-loved album 69 Love Songs “…is not remotely an album about love. It’s an album about love songs, which are very far away from anything to do with love.” It’s a little ironic then, that the album has inspired enduring affection, and continues to resonate with audiences almost twenty years after release.
Now, paying tribute to Merritt and co.’s album, Living Statue Records have released You Can Sing Me Anything: A Tribute to 69 Love Songs. It’s no small achievement to record sixty nine tracks, let alone coordinate sixty nine contributing artists, each working remotely, each bringing their own chops to massive sequence of songs. The result is an album that captures the exuberant range of Merritt’s stories, but in a patchwork of voices, and a set of contrasting approaches that somehow balance well, and compliment one another in process.
A distinguishing mark of the original album was the inclusive diversity of perspectives. Narrators of the songs sang from inside and outside of binary gender orientation. Fitting then, that this was an album selected by the label to celebrate the work of No More Dysphoria, a nonprofit organization that helps trans and gnc people with funds for major aspects of their transition. All profits from the sale of this album will be donated to the cause. Nice work, Living Statue Records.
The range of artists on display is impressive. Sixty nine contributors who each understand, and clearly express an understanding of the project’s ethos, and the spirit of the original release. Brook Pridemore’s version of ‘Acoustic Guitar’, Dara Hirsch’s (Operator Music Band) ‘The Cactus Where Your Heart Should Be’, and The Noods account of ‘Washington D.C.’ offer the kind understated contrasts that are experienced.
It’s exactly because the artists assume quiet confidence, and deliver very personal takes of very well known songs that the spirit of 69 Love Songs is so well preserved. When Sammy Heck signs ‘Nothing Matters When We’re Dancing’ you forgive yourself for thinking “The whole album should be this good…” But that’s the thing; just like the original album, each spin throws a new favorite track, a new preferred version, and in this case, a new favorite artist.
If The Magnetic Fields 69 Love Songs won the hearts and minds of fans when it was first released this tribute album should continue to preserve the spirit, and encourage kindness around the world. With it’s concentration on love, and it’s authentic focus on doing what is right, You Can Sing Me Anything… deserves high praise, and should remain in heavy rotation at every after-party, and after-after-party for a very long time.
HURRY – BUY – YOU CAN SING ME ANYTHING: A TRIBUTE TO 69 LOVE SONGS